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The UK's first summer festival starts tomorrow and it's on the doorstep.

The UK's first summer festival starts tomorrow and it's on the doorstep. Sam Wonfor previews nine tuneful days in May... otherwise known as the Evolution Festival.

The Motorettes

Festival fans can leave their Wellington boots and camping gear at home this week as the UK's only urban music gathering kicks off.

Tomorrow sees the start of the seventh Evolution Festival, a nine-day feast of music featuring artists spanning the musical spectrum at venues across Tyneside.

Newcastle-bred Maximo Park are headlining this year's event and will bring proceedings to a close at the outdoor Freevolution event on Bank Holiday Monday, May 28.

They will be joined for the two-stage gathering (the Imagination Stage will reside at Baltic Square while the Innovation Stage will be found at Spiller's Wharf) by the likes of Echo and the Bunnymen, Joe Jackson, Kano, The Enemy (replacements for Larrikin Love), Radio Soulwax and local up and comers The Motorettes and Seven Heroes.

Around 50,000 people are expected to attend Freevolution but there's a lot to get through before then: 20 indoor gigs across six venues, a Shindig dance event in Baltic Square, new music showcases and a raft of industry seminars.

Unfortunately, the planned launch gig, which was to feature Newcastle-based music makers yourcodenameis: milo was cancelled because of what the organisers called circumstances beyond their control.

But remaining highlights include The Waterboys at The Sage Gateshead on Monday, Patti Smith and Band at the same venue on Wednesday, Groove Armada at Newcastle Carling Academy on Tuesday and Joan As Policewoman at The Sage Gateshead's Hall Two on Friday.

In addition, dance music god Pete Tong will lead the 15th birthday celebrations for North-East (and international) dance brand Shindig at Baltic Square on May 27. He will be joined by Dubfire (Deep Dish), Scott Bradford and Scooby.

Evolution 07 will once again be helping to raise funds for Northumbrian Water's adopted international charity, WaterAid.

Evolution festival director Jim Mawdsley said: "We're more excited than ever about the quality and range of music acts we've got lined up. The festival culminates in Freevolution and it's a source of immense pride that this is probably the best free music festival anywhere in Europe and it's happening right here in North East England.

"All that is left is for everyone to come along to be a part of this nine days of first class music. And don't forget to give as much as you can to WaterAid."

Stella Hall, creative director of NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: "We are proud to continue our support of Evolution 07, part of our world class festivals and events programme.

"Every year the festival goes from strength to strength and we expect this to be the best ever. A key part of the festival is to bring major acts to NewcastleGateshead to play alongside up-and-coming local talent."

For full listings and further information, visit www.evolutionfestival.co.uk or www.myspace.com/thisisevolution . For more information on WaterAid log onto www.nwl.co.uk/wateraid.aspx .

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Evolution

Evolution Festival - Festival Highlights

Tomorrow

* Tunng and Loney, Dear plus Patrick Watson, Hall Two, The Sage Gateshead

Monday, May 21

* The Waterboys, Hall One, The Sage Gateshead

* Emma Pollock (ex The Delgados), The Cluny

Tuesday, May 22

* Groove Armada, Newcastle Carling Academy

* Katy Moffat and Elaine Palmer, Morden Tower

Wednesday, May 23

* Apples in Stereo plus special guests, The Other Rooms

* Patti Smith and Band, Hall One, The Sage Gateshead

Thursday, May 24

* Nouvelle Vague plus special guests, Newcastle University

* Seasick Steve and Ray Bonneville, The Cluny

Friday, May 25

* Joan as Policewoman, Hall Two, The Sage Gateshead

* The New Mastersounds and Groovenik, The Cluny

Saturday, May 26

* Robbie Fulks and Jeb Loy Nichol, The Cluny

Sunday, May 27

* Shindig 15 with Pete Tong, Dubfire (Deep Dish, Scott Bradford and Scooby), Baltic Square, Gateshead

Freevolution on Bank Holiday Monday, May 28:

INNOVATION STAGE (Spiller's Wharf)

* Maximo Park

* Echo and the Bunnymen

* The Enemy (who have replaced Larrikin Love)

* Joe Jackson

* Hot Club de Paris

* Kano

* The Motorettes

* Seven Heroes

* The Stone Love and Bulletproof l Soundsystem

IMAGINATION STAGE (Baltic Square)

* Radio Soulwax

* Simian Mobile Disco Live

* Calvin Harris

* Datarock

* Chromeo

* Shy Child

* Bonde de Role

* To My Boy

* The Jukebox Soundsystem

* The Freevolution afterparty will take place at Digital in Newcastle on the evening of Bank Holiday Monday.

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